Mentoring and Reverse Mentoring: Giving Back, Getting Back - in conversation with Angela Mangiapane

Point of View
4 min readJun 15, 2023

When it comes to employee engagement, mentoring is perhaps an overlooked, yet critical, business strategy. Because what’s good for people is often good for the bottom line. In fact, recent studies find 92 percent of all U.S. Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs. And as a result, they’re posting median profits more than three times higher than those without mentoring programs. What’s more, they’re significantly more resilient against employee quitting trends.

We’re in conversation with Angela Mangiapane, a passionate leader and devoted mentor who graciously shares the lessons she’s learned about how people can continue to grow and innovate throughout their careers, in any role and at any level.

Angela, you’ve talked about how important mentoring is to you. What part has mentoring played in your life, as both mentor and mentee?

Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to have many supportive mentors, both female and male. I want to repay their generosity by sharing my own life lessons with the next generation. But as a mentor, I’ve found I continue to learn, too! Different generations have much more in common than we realize, and we can all benefit from a lively exchange of perspectives.

The concept of learning from those we mentor is called “reverse mentoring.” It involves pairing senior employees with more junior ones to help round out the more experienced person’s knowledge and point of view — for example, mastering new technologies and advocating for corporate responsibility.

Along with mentoring, we also provide sponsorship and coaching opportunities. As a mentor, you can have many mentees, but as a sponsor, you have less than five. A commitment to sponsorship means advocating for those you sponsor throughout their career. While mentors offer guidance and support, sponsors remain continuously engaged. In a way, they stake their own success on the success of their sponsorees.

Coaching is somewhere in between mentorship and sponsorship. As a coach, I check in regularly with my coachees. Together, we set goals and hold each other accountable in our roles.

Whatever the program mentorship, sponsorship, or coaching the outcome is one of mutuality. We gain from, and grow with, each other.

Do you have specific values you try to instill in your mentees — experiences in your own life that have been informative?

Absolutely. While my overarching belief is we’re all responsible for making our own choices and creating our own futures, my life has served up many lessons I’m happy to share. But know what worked for me may not work for someone else, so I never tell people what they should do. Rather, I offer perspective. It may be an experience from my life that reflects a situation similar to one they describe, with a story of how I put the pieces together.

Overall, in offering insight, I take a “3C” approach. First, comfort breakthrough. This means reconsidering beliefs and behaviors that may come naturally but are limiting or unproductive.

I’m always on the lookout for openings to step outside my comfort zone.

Second, curiosity. We know children are super curious, but once they get to school they often lose that innate inquisitiveness. No matter how old we are, we need to reawaken our curiosity, which is key to continuous discovery and full engagement in life. I would not have had the opportunities I’ve had were I not always asking “why.”

Third, courage — a quality that often arises when things don’t go as planned. I always assumed as long as I worked hard, opportunities would follow. But when looking at internal job postings, I wouldn’t apply if I didn’t fit every requirement. What’s worse, I wasn’t discussing my future career goals with managers.

An HR leader later told me by not sharing my hopes for the future or dismissing a role I felt underqualified for, I was giving the impression I wasn’t decisive. Was I not looking to learn, grow, and challenge myself? So, I learned to be my own best advocate. I had to find the courage to raise my hand… even if a role or project looked challenging. I realized it was better to get a “not now” than ask myself “what if…?”

Thank you, Angela. We are grateful for your insights.

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A values-driven and human-centric leader, Angela Mangiapane brings to business and board service a creative transformation perspective — at the intersection of financial progress, social good, and human capital investment. She has served in a variety of leadership roles throughout her career and is currently channeling her expertise into board service. Angela is chair of Economics of Mutuality, a public interest foundation devoted to transforming the economic system through creating a mutuality of benefits among all stakeholders. She also serves as co-chair of the Conference Board, a global nonprofit “think tank,” as well as on the advisory board of SSON, a professional networking group for high-level professionals.

Connect with Angela on LinkedIn.

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Point of View

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